The pairing possibilities for craft brews at your Thanksgiving feast are nearly limitless. From lively pilsners to awaken the appetite to syrupy barleywines to settle you into your turkey-coma, beer offers the versatility to fit into any menu.
One way to include beer at the table this Thanksgiving is to bring a growler — the reusable glass jug that most local breweries will fill with their fresh suds — of a locally brewed beer. And Los Angeles now has more options than ever before for grabbing a growler (or two, or three) for the holiday.
With over 20 craft breweries now in the Los Angeles Brewers Guild, there’s sure to be a taproom close by to score something for the holiday. Here are some off-the-beaten-track suggestions for brews that might not be the first thing to come to mind, but they’re all fantastic options for sharing at the feast.
--Beer fans in the South Bay are spoiled for choice when it comes to craft breweries, with nearly half a dozen operations now offering growler fills. Great choices to pair with the turkey and fixings are Little Bo Pils or Saber Toothed Squirrel hoppy amber from Smog City Brewing Co. in Torrance. The pilsner is approachable enough to sway even your light beer-drinking uncle to the craft movement, and Smog City’s amber ale balances a pungent and citrusy hop flavor with toasty malts that are a natural match for a robust roast bird.
--Just down the block from Smog City is the Belgian-inspired Monkish Brewing Co., where brewmaster Henry Nguyen deftly blends spices and botanicals in his often potent ales. Nguyen’s brews are eminently food-friendly, and the earthy farmhouse ale Brown Habit is about as well-suited to the big turkey dinner as any beer in L.A. Another option, Anomaly, is a strong dark ale that's rich with dark fruit flavors and spicy esters that make for a pleasant match with sweet potato pie.
--Torrance is also home to one of L.A’s oldest breweries; Strand Brewing Co. makes a pale ale — 24th Street — that’s a little hoppier and a little maltier than the usual American pale ale. This amped-up flavor means it’ll stand up to the big flavors of the Turkey Day table.
--Looking at the north end of L.A., there are a few great brews to bring to the table as well. At the celebrated Ladyface Alehouse brewpub in Agoura Hills, look for Old World-inspired house beer, such as the refreshing and tart La Grisette or the Belgian dubbel Blind Ambition. The latter example is a style perfectly at home at the feast, and this is one of L.A.’s best. If you’re looking for a brew for pie pairing, look no further than the coffee-embued Picture City Porter, with a delicate dark chocolate essence underneath big roasty coffee flavors.
--A newer brewery in Van Nuys, MacLeod Ale Brewing Co. is dedicated to making session-friendly British cask-ale styles, and they offer a light (in body) but dark (in color) Scottish ale called the King’s Taxes. A growler of this is going to go fast once pitch-black pints start getting poured, and it’s especially on-point if you’re serving roast beef or lamb alongside the bird. The Little Spree is a Yorkshire-style pale ale that marries a crisp and crackery malt body with herbal and woody English hops. And the beer’s brightness will cut right through a green bean casserole.